I like to try new things and eat at nice restaurants. My husband on the other hand doesn’t. How do we compromise?
Aside from the lovely eHarmony commercials we see on TV, one of the biggest misconceptions couples have going into marriage is that they will be compatible. Research conducted by Dr. John Gottman has shown that couples will be incompatible an amazing 69 percent of the time! Maybe eHarmony should extend its compatibility measurement to 30 dimensions instead of the current 29.
So, when you don’t agree, it’s clearly not an indication that something is wrong with your marriage. After all, you’re two different people who have not been raised the same way. The trick is how to bridge between the stylistic differences in order to create harmony.
That having been said, the annoyance you feel about wanting to try out new restaurants and eat out in nice places while your partner would rather stay home in jeans is understandable—from your vantage point. I think it’s also important that you recognize from your spouse’s perspective that it’s upsetting to be asked to leave the comfort of feeling relaxed, both in clothing and environment.
It sounds like this concern may be more than just about restaurants and eating out. The two of you may just have a basic difference in your personalities. It seems you like change and variation, but your mate is very content to stay consistent and does not need the variety you do. Should the latter be accurate, the excitement of the new experience wouldn’t hold the same meaning for your spouse.
Is It A Personality Difference?
One of the ways you will know if it’s a personality trait variation is to think back to the time when you were dating. I’m not talking about the very beginning, as this is the time when everyone puts their very best effort forward. But when you started to become comfortable with one another—was your mate a creature of habit? If so, this is who they are and it’s not likely to change.
If, however, this trait is something new, then you might want to explore why there’s been a change in behavior. Is there a concern about spending the money when going out to fine restaurants? Does your partner feel really tired from working so hard or being under terrible pressure that they just need the comforts of home? Are children now involved and there’s a hesitation to leave them?
Finding a Compromise
Of course, in any relationship, it’s important for each person’s needs to be considered. So, without passing judgment, have a discussion to find out what, exactly, is underneath your spouse’s behavior and express your needs. Then figure out how you can compromise. Here are a couple of suggestions to start you off:
1. Decide together how much you’ll spend on a dinner out.
2. Compromise on how frequently you’ll go out to eat and/or try a new restaurant.
3. You research possible restaurants and offer three choices that will allow your partner to select the one that is most pleasing.
4. Consider trying a new restaurant with a friend.
5. Perhaps try a different style of food—but bring it into the home to eat.
The most important part of this issue is that you come to accept one another for the person you each are and also learn to grow through understanding and compromise. Now that’s a tasty combination!
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It! Make It Last.